Box art for Punisher: War Zone

Punisher: War Zone

Continuing his crusade to punish violent criminals in America, former FBI agent Frank Castle arrives in New York to take on a scarred villain who plots to take control of the underworld.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

2 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Positive messages
0 out of 5
1 out of 5
5 out of 5

Violent vigilante comic book story is gory, grim stuff.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that this over-the-top action movie is unrepentantly violent, with a body count in the dozens and constant extreme, grisly depictions of hand-to-hand combat, gunshot wounds, explosions, industrial accidents, and much more. The movie's tone is also very moody and bleak -- it may be based on a popular Marvel comic book character, but it's not kids' stuff. It's more akin to the adventures of Dirty Harry than those of Spider-Man. Not only does the film tacitly endorse the vigilante "hero" and his violent methods, but so do law enforcement characters -- who either turn a blind eye to his activities or actively help him. Characters also use extremely strong language, drink, and use drugs (some are shown snorting cocaine).

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about the appeal of extreme violence on screen. What draws viewers to this kind of movie? What are the effects of watching so much grisly violence, even if it's intended to be deliberately over-the-top and cartoonish? Families can also discuss the film's endorsement of "going outside the law" to punish criminals who've evaded the consequences of their actions. Do the ends ever justify the means? What other recourse do people have when the system doesn't work?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

Top Critic Reviews

Rotten: Does it have to be so witless, so stupid, so openly contemptuous of the very audience it(TM)s supposed to be pandering to?

- A.O. Scott, New York Times, Friday, December 5, 2008

Rotten: This is purely gutter, fanboy, Cheez Whiz cinema, but Alexander delivers the goods.

- Adam Graham, Detroit News, Friday, December 5, 2008

Rotten: You couldn't call it shoddy, exactly, and the actors take it painfully seriously; it's just dispiriting to see all this endeavour in the service of something so humourless and disgusting.

- Andrew Pulver, Guardian [UK], Thursday, June 24, 2010

Audience Reviews

4 stars

Just Frank Castle doing what he does best, mowing down punks with a shitload of guns. Ray Stevenson is so perfect for Punisher. The story was so outlandish and over-the-top, but that's exactly what i'd want. They really kept the style of the source material and delivered an urban epic. Probably on of the most well made B-movies of recent.

- ythelastman89, Wednesday, November 18, 2009

4 stars

Finally somebody made a Punisher movie & got it right.Hopefully there will be a sequel

- dukeakasmudge, Saturday, October 17, 2009

3 stars

A mere four years after the 2004 Punisher film, we get the release of this little film, which, like the 2004 entry, is another reboot. Well, I say reboot, but it also feels like a quasi sequel at times, even though it ultimately sets out on its own course. Why they felt the need to reboot things so soon is beyond me, though. This time around, not only do we get the standard plot of Castle waging a war on crime vigilante/guerrilla style, we finally get the inclusion of Castle's tech support sidekick Microchip, as well as the source material villains Jigsaw and Loony Bin Jim. To start, this film, simply put, looks great. The production values are outstanding. I think they sometimes went a bit too overboard with the neon, but it does at least give the film a distinctive look and style. There's a tight pace, and, when it comes to the violence, this film really delivers the goods, getting quite graphic and gory at times, Whereas the 2004 version focused more on the drama and tactical side, this one goes all in on the brutality aspect, no doubt pleasing those who weren't fond of the 2004 one. And while I do think the violence is a highlight of this one, I think that maybe they put too much focus on it, and as a result, the film feels like the violence is the main point of things, and only there for the sake of it. I do have to give props to the fact that there's a woman at the helm for such a balls-to-the-wall actionfest, as too few women are present in the world of action films. Lexi Alexander proves she can hold her own with this type of stuff, but unfortunately, this film suffers from the lack of a great script, or any kind of meaningful depth and substance. Given the material though, the film is well cast and features some passable acting. I enjoyed Tom Jane's work, but I think that Ray Stevenson, so far, has done the best as Frank Castle/The Punisher. It's also nice seeing Wayne Knight back on the big screen, though it seems he once again disappeared after making this one. Dominic West and Doug Hutchison are also fine as Jigsaw and Loony Bin Jim, respectively. My only hope is that if another of these films is made, they make it a direct sequel, keep Stevenson in the lead, keep the level of violence/gore from this movie, add in the drama and intensity from the 2004 film, use the gritty aesthetics and tone from the 1989 film, either keep Alexander as director, or get someone like John McTiernan to helm it, and get someone like Garth McInnes or anyone else who wrote the comics to pen the script. If all of that is done, then there might finally be a Punisher film that is 100% in every way like the comics.

- cosmo313, Monday, November 4, 2013